Waikato District Council will carry out safety improvements at Raglan Airfield in the coming weeks which will include fencing off the area where planes land and park from the surrounding recreational areas.
This will mean an operational area about 60m wide will have a 1.2m high, post-and-wire fence round it to enhance safety for both the public and pilots.
The rest of the current airfield area will still be available for recreational use by the public, and access to the beach will be maintained. (see diagram)
The physical separation of people and planes is a critical safety measure recommended in an independent report to Council.
Other recommendations included:
- Define the runway area with appropriate runway marker boards
- Improve signage on all fences and access points
- Form an airfield user group
- Develop an airfield management plan.
Council acknowledges the opposition to a fence by the Raglan Community Board and appreciates the board’s support of the other safety recommendations.
“We know that there is opposition in the community to fencing off the runway but as we’ve said before, we’re looking at this purely from a safety perspective and we need to take action to ensure pilots using the airfield and people using the surrounding green space are safe,” said General Manager Service Delivery Roger MacCulloch.
“Once the recommendations were put forward to Council, it felt it had no choice but to implement those recommendations to protect the public from a potentially serious incident.”
Meanwhile Council has been regularly speaking to hapuu about the safety improvement plans.
It also has face-to-face discussions planned with hapuu about the future tenure of the land associated with the airfield.
Council currently manages this land on behalf of the Crown.
“While the safety improvements and the future land tenure of the Raglan Airfield are inherently linked, they are also separate issues,” said Mr MacCulloch.
“We are committed to making the airfield safe and working with hapuu through the land tenure process. However, it’s important to remember that it is not our process, it is something that the hapuu groups and the Crown need to work through.
“Issues like these in the past have shown us that this process can take a number of years. In the meantime, Council needs to mitigate the existing safety risks of the airfield as quickly as possible.”
Council will continue to work closely with the Raglan Community Board, hapuu and other key stakeholders to ensure they are regularly updated through the implementation of safety recommendations at the airfield.
The exact implementation costs have not yet been confirmed, but the money will be coming from Council’s general rate rather than a Raglan targeted rate.
The plan is to start this work before Christmas and Council will let everyone know closer to the time when that is.
The independent report can be viewed on Council’s website at https://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/your-district/district-overview/towns/raglan/raglan-airfield-safety-improvements